World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) is celebrated every year from 1 to 7 August in more than 120 countries to encourage breastfeeding and improve the health of babies around the world.
In support of WBW, WIC is distributing materials on the subject to OB/GYN offices throughout the county, running a continuous presentation on monitors at the Health Department and featuring an informational slide on TWC channel 16.
“One of the core functions of the Richmond County WIC program is to support breastfeeding,” said Saquana Miller-Stevenson, WIC Director. “Breastfeeding is the optimal form of infant feeding, because it has so many more benefits than artificial formula. Breastfeeding has physical, emotional and psychological benefits for mothers and children.”
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, breastfeeding is good for both babies and mothers.
Consuming human milk has many benefits for babies. It’s easier to digest, it has all the nutrients, calories and fluids babies need and it has growth factors that ensure the best development of a baby’s organs.
Breast milk has many substances that formulas don’t have that protect babies from many diseases and infections. Breastfed babies are less likely to have ear infections, diarrhea, pneumonia, wheezing, bronchitis, bacterial and viral infections such as meningitis.
Research also suggests that breastfeeding may help to protect against obesity, diabetes, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and some cancers.
Breastfeeding has been shown to promote health in women as well.
It helps the uterus return to pre-pregnancy size more quickly. More calories are burned by breastfeeding mothers, which helps with post-pregnancy weight loss. It delays the return of the menstrual period, to help breastfeeding mothers keep iron in the body.
Breastfeeding can provide contraception, if: a person is exclusively breastfeeding and not supplementing the baby’s diet with other food sources; it is within the first six months after birth; and the menstrual cycle has not returned.
It also has been proven to reduce the risk of ovarian cancer and breast cancer, as well as promote strong bones.
For many mothers and babies, breastfeeding goes smoothly from the start. For others, it takes a little time and several attempts to get the process going effectively. Like anything new, breastfeeding takes some practice. This is perfectly normal. If you need help, ask the doctors and nurses while you are still in the hospital, your pediatrician, a lactation specialist, or a breastfeeding support group.
State and local government, industry and small businesses also are encouraged to recognize breastfeeding’s benefits to mothers and babies by promoting, protecting and supporting breastfeeding in North Carolina. Beginning in July 2010, state policy requires all government agencies to provide space, privacy and time for nursing mothers to express breast milk.
For more information on breastfeeding, contact the WIC office at 910-997-8313.
— Staff writer Kelli Easterling can be reached at (910) 997-3111 ext. 18, or by email at email@example.com.